As the bomb cyclone Blizzard of 2019 walloped our home-state of Colorado, I couldn’t help but relate the experience back to field service as I watched snow removal crews tackle mounting snow drifts, relentless winds and fallen trees. There is no amount of training that can prepare a field crew for these types of conditions. There are, however, field service software solutions that can help the field crews stay coordinated with the operations team at the corporate office while remaining focused on safety.
Here are a few key takeaways of what a historic blizzard taught me about field service coordination.
Tracking Field Crews in Real-Time Matters
You can’t control the weather or how different areas will be affected, but you can stay up-to-date on where in the world your field crews are conducting work. By enabling your mobile field service app to leverage the native GPS on the technician’s mobile device, you get a real-time view of situations that may impact response time.
Moreover, layering in current traffic ensures operations teams have time to assess the situation to reschedule jobs at a moments notice. Being able to understand where and when field crews are in the process of a work order can save valuable time and ensure their safety. For instance, if you rolled a truck and it hasn’t moved in hours, something might be terribly wrong.
Luckily, at least one field service automation software provider (that would be us, Field Squared) has in-app collaboration and messaging solutions so you can simply message the driver to see what’s up.
GIS Asset Management is a Must
When inclement weather hits, it’s not just field crews that are impacted. General asset management and maintenance can become a nightmare unless you’ve properly tagged an asset location. It’s instances like this where GIS shines.
Accurate geospatial recognition of assets for effective, efficient asset management is a topic we take very seriously here at Field Squared. Not only did we create an awesome infographic on the Time and Space of Field Service Management, but we also partnered with the leading GIS software provider, Esri. Through that partnership, we developed a zero-effort integration to Esri ArcGIS to make it that much easier for our mutual customers to leverage their existing investments when managing their field service.
You’re Operating in the Dark if You Don’t Have Offline Field Service Capabilities
We’ve all experienced loss of WiFi or cellular connection from time to time. After all, no system is perfect. The nature of field service work can take place in some of the most remote places on earth where there is no cellular connection. So, how do your technicians complete the work order? How do ensure no loss of data when everything is digital?
Without offline field service capabilities, you’re operating in the dark and might as well go back to using paper. That is, unless you’ve armed your technicians with a solid mobile field workforce management application that runs both online and offline.
During the blizzard, there was loss of power to over 250,000 people and, at least where I live, we were experiencing fairly consistent brown-outs throughout the day. It can be exceptionally time-consuming when connection goes in and out throughout the day to try and complete work in the field.
Shameless plug here. Field Squared senses when you have a good connection and when you don’t. Unlike most field service and mobile workforce management software, it’s all automatic within Field Squared via our proprietary Mobile Sync and Merge Engine that effortlessly syncs all changes when connectivity is restored.
When You Hear “Blizzard Warning” or “Bomb Cyclone,” Head the Warnings
Okay, so this last takeaway is common sense, but it’s worth relating to field service and mobile workforce management.
During the blizzard, I had the local news on in the background for part of the day, since they were conducting ongoing coverage of the storm event. It’s nothing new to watch the whiteout conditions make driving impossible as well as mountain passes impassable, but it’s on another level to watch commerce grind to a halt.
Living in Colorado, I’ll be the first to admit I do not drive over the Continental Divide in, around, near, at or on Winter. Ever. There is a harrowing story there about a cross-country move that went sideways—literally—as we emerged out the West side of the Eisenhower Tunnel, just over the Continental Divide. Sufficed to say, we survived to tell the unforgettable tale.
It’s experiences like that which make this particular point that much more imperative for anyone who thinks they can outrun the storm, drive with straight-line winds or plow their vehicle through inches of snow on the road: when meteorologists use words like “blizzard warning” or “bomb cyclone,” head the warnings.
For field service and mobile workforce management, certain technicians and crews had to be out on the roads to aid in emergency situations. And if those companies had field service software, I’m certain they were ahead of the curve with their ability to coordinate a response. The next time a historical storm happens, perhaps your company will already have adopted field service automation software like Field Squared to help you weather the storm.